Instagram Soundcloud Spotify

Raising A Fun Rock/Hip-Hop/Funk Ruckus: An Interview with Shikobi

Written by:

Photo Credit: Mathius Fau

The raw and explosive hard rock hybrid band Shikobi is blowing up the airwaves with its new single, “Here We Go Again.”  The Australian-in-origin and now L.A.-based band blends hard rock with funk and hip-hop for an energetic and emotive take on the modern alternative rock landscape. Australian brothers Aaron and Luke Hession formed Shikobi in their Gold Coast home at the start of 2014.

In just under a year, they quickly climbed the ladder of success, going from intense local shows to being a touring band that sold out high-profile venues. The brothers then relocated to Los Angeles and in April 2015 they enlisted bassist Marco Barrientos and drummer Dylan Hayden to round out the band.  Shikobi has been steadily building up its fanbase in the U.S. and will be delivering its debut EP, Pull The Trigger, on September 23rd.

Brothers Aaron and Luke took a break from their busy schedule to reply to this interview which includes some input from Marco and Dylan as well.

Stereo Embers Magazine: Heya guys!  I’m really diggin’ your dynamic and engaging hard rock/hip-hop/funk hybrid sound on lead single “Here We Go Again” and can’t wait for the release of your Pull The Trigger EP.  Where are you located at the moment and what’s the vibe like?  What is the target date for the EP?

Shikobi: What’s up, Jen! Thank you. We are based in L.A. It’s a really chilled vibe over here. There is still a huge music scene, so we feel we are in the right place. The Pull The Trigger EP is set for release on September 23.

SEM: Aaron and Luke, you’re brothers, originally from Australia, and founded Shikobi in early 2014.  What is your musical background and why did you decide to form a band?

Shikobi: We grew up in a musical household. Our mum played in both original and cover bands as far back as we can remember, so live music was a normal part of life. There would often be a bunch of people at our house jamming out for hours… It was a fun thing to grow up around. We were playing a lot of music and naturally progressed to writing our own material. That’s how Shikobi started.

SEM: The reception to Shikobi in Australia has been massive and rapidly expanding, with you playing sell-out gigs at big venues and slotting at #1 on Triple J’s famed Unearthed countdown within a year of the band’s inception.  Have you already released some recordings or are the tracks on the upcoming Pull The Trigger the ones that you performed during this time period?

Shikobi: We hadn’t previously released anything, though we did submit our recently released single “Here We Go Again” to the Triple J Unearthed countdown, which is the song that hit the #1 spot.

SEM: Why did you decide to beat a path to Los Angeles when you were experiencing so much success in Australia?

Shikobi: We lived on the Gold Coast in Australia, which is a beautiful coastal city, but a place with almost no live music scene. We knew we had to relocate to a bigger city to pursue our music career, so when an opportunity came up to move to LA, we packed our bags and crossed the Pacific.

SEM: What has the transition been like from the Gold Coast and surrounding areas of Australia to the gritty city milieu of Los Angeles?

Shikobi: The US and Australia share very similar cultures, so the transition has been easy.

SEM: Once in L.A., how did you end up connecting with Marco and Dylan?

Shikobi: Once we decided to move to LA we began searching for a bassist and drummer. Marco was one of the first bassists we auditioned. He was a perfect fit for the band and joined immediately. We actually met Dylan through a mutual friend of Marco’s.

SEM: Marco and Dylan, what are your musical backgrounds?  Were you playing in other bands before Aaron and Luke asked you to join Shikobi?

Marco: I started playing bass at age 14. After school I studied at Musicians Institute Hollywood. My biggest influences are Flea (RHCP) and Ryan Martinie (Mudvayne). Before Shikobi I played in Devil in Drag, Terminal VI, and Gangsta Rock (with actor Orlando Jones), to name a few.

Dylan: I started playing drums age 12. Went to school for classical percussion, but grew up playing in rock bands in Cleveland. I spent time as a performing artist on cruise ships before moving to LA last year where I’ve played with a bunch of other artists.

SEM: Your hybrid musical style harks back to killer bands like Red Hot Chili Peppers and Linkin Park.  Would you count those acts as being influential to your sound?

Shikobi: Absolutely. We grew up listening to these bands, amongst others. Our sound is definitely a combination of all of those influences.

SEM: “Here We Go Again” is so energetic and enthusiastic – and it lyrically comes across as your anthem when you exclaim, “Here we go again / Let’s make our stand / Play our hand / Fuck the plan.”  Does this accurately capture your overall outlook or is it more of a snapshot of how you feel before a gig?

Shikobi: While it was never written to be a catchcry as such, reading back over the lyrics, it does capture our general outlook as a band.

SEM: I’ve always admired an artist’s ability to rapid-fire rap, which you do on the verses of “Here We Go Again”. How difficult is it to rap song lyrics as opposed to singing them?

Shikobi: In some ways it’s easier as you don’t have to worry about holding correct melodies, but you also have to become very fluent in what you’re singing and focus on correct breathing points.

SEM: I’m also into the rhythmic tribal drum pounding and prominent bass line that run through the single.  Marco and Dylan, how easy or difficult is it to lock in the groove on a song like this?

Shikobi: We find any song with such a groovy beat is easy to lock in on. Groove and funk is the basis of most of our music.

SEM: You recorded the Pull The Trigger EP at London Bridge Studio in Seattle with famed producer Eric Lilavois (Soundgarden, Pearl Jam, My Chemical Romance, 3 Doors Down).  That is a huge get!  How did you hook up with him?

Shikobi: Our PR agent Kershona Mayo introduced us initially. After chatting with Eric and sharing our vision with him we realized he was the perfect fit to produce our EP. It was an honour to spend time recording in London Bridge studio with Eric. We were surrounded with such a rich musical history and it was an inspiring time.

SEM: What can listeners expect sonically and lyrically on the rest of Pull The Trigger?  From what I understand, you hit hard on some social issues while keeping the musical party going non-stop.

Shikobi: As a band we feel we have a platform to address key social issues, but at the same time we write music with an upbeat energy and we like to celebrate the lighter side of life.

SEM: You just threw down at the renowned Whiskey A Go-Go on July 9th.  What was that show like?  Do you have any more gigs lined up?

Shikobi: The show was dope. It’s a venue we’ve always wanted to play. We were part of a great Saturday night line-up and the place was rocking.

Read more about Shikobi here: